This site has been archived on

Electronic Mall Bodensee (EMB) :
tri-national electronic commerce in the Lake Constance (Bodensee) region

(email removed) , (email removed) , (email removed)

Institute for Information Managemen t, University of St.Gallen , CH–9000 St.Gallen, Switzerland,
Tel: +41–71–224 21 96, Fax: +41–71–224 27 71, Email:
(email removed) , (email removed) , (email removed)

Abstract: The Electronic Mall Bodensee ( EMB ) is a regional, but multi-national project that realises an electronic marketplace for a specific region in the heart of Europe. The term electronic marketplace describes an open, virtual electronic marketplace that serves as an open platform for electronic commerce and information exchange between all its commercial and private participants. The EMB has been running with great success since summer 1995.

1. The Electronic Marketplace
2. Competence Centre Electronic Markets
3. The Electronic Mall Bodensee (EMB) Project
4. Current state of the EMB
5. Conclusion
6. References

1. The Electronic Marketplace

On our way to the information society, both the business world and the society are undergoing rapid changes. The explosive growth of new telematic applications, like the Internet, imposes drastic changes on the intra- andund interorganisational processes and structures of many companies [ 1 ]. With the arrival of relatively cheap Information and Communication Technology (ICT) the impacts of these changes on private households are enormous, too.

We are challenged to create systems that enable everybody to participate in and benefit from the new interactive multimedia telematic infrastructures. Private households have to be regarded not only as consumers that shop all day long, but also as producers of goods and services and as citizens, and therefore as important actors in a market system. The idea of the Electronic Mall Bodensee is based on those assumptions [ 2 , 3 ].

The term "Electronic Marketplace" is used in this context to designate an open, virtual electronic marketplace in the sense of the ancient Agora. On this classical marketplace people gathered not just to buy and sell, but to socialise, argue politics, and exercise all the other prerogatives of citizenship [ 2 ].

2. Competence Centre Electronic Markets

Research on the Strategic Potentials of Electronic Commerce
The Institute for Information Managemen combines a team of researchers at the university and a group of eleven partner companies from various industries with whom we explore three interrelated areas of electronic commerce (EC): retail and marketing, business - business applications as well as intranets:

Although companies started to focus on the retail aspects of Internet applications they became quickly aware of the potentials of applications in a business-business context with interrelated internal applications. As the same technology provides the platform for all three types of applications, huge economies of scope can be gained. As the clients are very cheap, we can observe a swift diffusion of this technology (and its underlying infrastructures).


Figure 1: Application areas of Electronic Commerce

Currently, research focuses on three interrelated areas:

Market analysis for electronic markets and electronic commerce
Here we are dealing with questions like: Who are the users and customers of the Internet (Internet surveys and demographics)? Which traces do the customers leave and what are typical usage patterns? What are the determinants of future developments?

Models of interorganizational relations
We are developing a methodology for interorganizational BPR and Business Network Redesign (BNR) and will apply it to study the effects of electronic commerce on the redesign of value chains, e.g. through direct sales or new CyberMediaries. Furthermore implications on the design of electronic market platforms will be discussed.

Electronic commerce strategies in an industry context
The current development shows that generic strategies to position the Web activities within existing marketing and distribution strategies or to give a specific profile to the Web activities or to configure new Web based products and services need to be grounded in a thorough industry analysis before they can become effective. We have conducted studies in the media and tourist industry and will do further research in the financial services and logistics industries.


Figure 2: Research areas of the CC EM

3 . The Electronic Mall Bodensee (EMB) Project

The EMB initiative was launched in January 1995 by a consortium of university and commercial representatives from the bordering countries of the Lake of Constance (Bodensee) in German), among them the Institute for Information Management of the University of St.Gallen and the Cantonale Office for Industry, Commerce, and Employment of St.Gallen - KIGA.. The EMB ( ) was officially opened on June 21, 1995.


Figure 3: Homepage of the Electronic Mall Bodensee (September 1996)

The primary mission of the project is to construct a neutral, across-the-border electronic platform for handling business and other transactions and to serve as information exchange for all participants. The most important objectives of the EMB are:

The architecture of the EMB consists of three layers, namely at the bottom a telecommunications infrastructure layer, a market service layer in the middle, providing generic market services like payment services and an application layer with electronic commerce applications, information from and about the region and information resources of interest to the region (e.g. SME R&D database).

4 . Current state of the EMB

Since its opening last year the EMB has attracted well over 400 primarily regional suppliers that offer different types of information and goods over the EMB platform. More than 150 companies, most of them SMEs propose Electronic Commerce applications, ranging from electronic storefronts, an on-line ordering system for wine, to a very sophisticated regional tourist information system, including a hotel reservation system.

During summer 1996 more than 350'000 pageviews were counted on the EMB with a growth rate of 15% per month. An analysis of the visits shows that nearly three quarters of all users are residents of the region.

Until now most commercial suppliers achieved reasonable benefits:

Further effects that can be assigned to the activities around the EMB:

5 . Conclusion

For a region like the Lake Constance area the information age provides the means for a prosperous development where geographical disadvantages are no longer decisive. The new telematic infrastructures of ubiquitous and open electronic marketplaces enable all business and residents within that region to participate in the emerging new information age. The regional focus of the EMB project made it possible to reach a critical mass of participants in a short time. Regional virtual marketplaces like the EMB may be considered to serve as nucleus of the emerging global village.

6. References

[1] Benjamin, R., Wigand R. (1995) 'Electronic Markets and Virtual Value Chains on the Information Superhighway', Sloan Management Review Winter 1995: 62-72.

[2] Zimmermann, H.D . (1995) 'The model of Regional Electronic Marketplaces - The example of the Electronic Mall Bodensee', ProceedingsProceedeings of COTIM '95 Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

[3] Schmid, B . et al. (1995) Electronic Mall: Banking und Shopping in globalen Netzen . Stuttgart, Teuber.

[ Back to the top ] [ Institute for Information Managemen ] [ Go EMB! ]

© CC EM, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland